Thursday, March 31, 2005


Looks like Carmack agrees with me about cell phone games. Good luck makin' em! I can't even transfer a freakin' file...

Saw screenshots from Bethesda's upcoming Elder Scrolls title. Morrowind is still the most beautiful game and one of the most memorable games I've ever played. Too bad it takes 1600 hours to finish... I should pick it back up again... [in my spare time? HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAAAAA]

I'm trying to get SystemInfo working on Windows 95,98 & NT. WHAT A PAIN IN THE BUTT. Ugly callbacks in C. Ick. Can't wait until that's finally done.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

It's Like A Game! Except... Ummm... Not.

George Zhang put up a description of what I'm working on right now. Once I get SystemInfo squared away, ConsultComm 3.2 should be posted and done. Finally.


I've been quite off-topic in my projects lately. I've been trying to fix & ship the final version of ConsultComm 3.x, and part of that was fixing a JNI call to a native Windows library I made. I offered to donate it to the JDesktop Integration Components, then became maintainer of an incubator project. Now I need to polish what was once auxillary code into an API so I can ship it off... then finish ConsultComm, then pick back up on texture mapping.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I don't know why I'm waxing rhapsodic about this, but I am. Webdog retired at the end of February, but I didn't notice 'till now.

Back in the good ol' days, .plan files could be finger'ed to query information about a user. The first "blogs" were born from these ASCII files spewed from UNIX servers scattered about. This mainly caught on in readable popularity as John Carmack and others at id used it for talking about random thoughts, product announcements, server downtime, etc.

However, Carmack has since moved out of the .plansphere and into the blogsphere, and I'm sure Justin Frankel isn't far behind. Or maybe he is. He seems to like the obscurity.

Me too, I guess.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Rants at the GDC

There are some great rants that have been transcribed from the current Game Developer's Conference in California. Here are a few excerpts from my favorite rants:

I say, enough. The time has come for revolution! It may seem to you that what I describe is inevitable forces of history, but no, we have free will! EA could have chosen to focus on innovation, but they did not. Nintendo could make development kits cheaply available to small firms, but they prefer to rely on the creativity on one aging designer. You have choices too: work in a massive sweatshop publisher-run studio with thousands of others making the next racing game with the same gameplay as Pole Position. Or you can riot in the streets of redwood city! Choose another business model, development path, and you can choose to remember why you love games and make sure in a generation’s time there are still games to love. You can start today.
Greg Costikyan

Wal-Mart drives development decisions now. When publishers minimise risk by kow-towing to the retailers, you have a serious problem. When every game has to either be a blockbuster or a student film, we got a real problem. For my end of the game business all of our efforts are going into reaching a mainstream audience who may well even not be interested in what we do! My first game cost me 273,000 dollars. My next one is BLAH millions. How many of you work on games that make money? 4 out of 5 games lose money, according to one pundit who may be lying, admittedly. Can we do any worse if we just trusted the creative folks entirely instead of the publishers?
Warren Spector

Q: Retail developers, get out of your death march! Do you guys think it’s possible for a young student who wants to get in to be an independent developer? Is this possible? Artists these days are getting a 30K dollar degree to work in a 40K job for 80 hours a week. It’s disgusting.

Jason: not an easy path. IGDA are trying to help. All the time when .. we see a lot of students and schools, and when they work on game projects in schools, every one of those projects is a clone of an existing game. NOW is your time to make something innovative or wacky.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Well, MakeHuman just released a new version, this one apparently fixing the licensing problems that restricted the previous releases. Purely because of the licensing, I created a new mesh from MakeHuman and re-did my character model.

There is TONS of detail in the new model, including teeth, gums and palate for the mouth. Of course, I needed a low-poly model so I had to remove all of these faces by hand. Ick. Border select/deselect quickly became my best friend, but I think I have a decent model to work with. One problem is that the face is a bit messed, but I'm straightening it out. Now to re-try unwrapping the mesh using seams.

And on an ever-persistant sidenote, I finally gave in with MPEG2 encoding and I'm just storing all my video footage in DV Type 2 AVI's. About 12 GB / 1 hour of footage, but no more freakin' codec problems. The down side is that my 250 GB hard drive is now full, so I'll have to either add on some additional storage, compress the files (ick) or do the encoding soon.

Still waiting for Darwinia.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Creating Creative Creations

mpeg2enc -q 1 -b 8000!!!
mp2enc -e!!!
mplex -V!!!

Please tell me that works...

Nope. And such is the life of a content creator.

I'm realizing that content creation is the crux of all new game creation now. In the days of yore the code was the biggest obstacle... making things faster, scalable, playable. But now the biggest obstacle in creating modern games is a) creative content and b) the tools to create the content.

For example, id wrote a software tool that took high-poly meshes with detailed textures, converted them into lower-poly models with bump and normal maps, then exported that content into the game. So you'd spend weeks on creating a single model, have software figure out which details were best suited for normal or bump maps, then drop the corresponding textures and meshes into the engine. Meanwhile Carmack wrote an entire radiosity engine in the shower, using nothing but Pantene and a loofa.

Now that I'm trying to still figure out texture mapping in Blender, I'm definitely gathering an appreciation for the DAYS it takes to generate nice models. And now that I've been failing to get a good, reliable way to encode MPEG2 video from a DV camcorder, I'm appreciating how hard it is to get the appropriate tools.

Yes, I still have completely failed to get a good routine for archiving home movies. I was set on Kine and ffmpeg, actually re-encoded everything AGAIN, only to find that the timestamps for 50% of the MPEG's were fragmented at points. Some were serious enough to make my DVD player freak out.

Cursing SuSE under my breath for not giving me a good toolchain, I tried using Nero's video capture utility in WinXP. It was horrible. Even capturing to raw DV Nero dropped frames like a hammer like a one ton barbell like a bad habit a lot. If I dropped a single frame in Kino I'd start all over again. With Nero I'd average about 1 dropped frame per minute. So Linux still won, although I still lost.

I'm going to try something from MainConcept methinks, maybe MainActor.

Still working on texture mapping too... creating seams in Blender seems to be the way to go, but since my mesh is so asymmetrical (and it's gonna stay that way, dammit!) it's tough to get it to work 100%.